Weddings will only be allowed with five people under coronavirus rules

The number of people attending church weddings during the coronavirus crisis will be limited to five people.

This is the legal minimum – the priest, the bride and groom and two witnesses – the Church of England has said.

In updated guidance on their website, the Church said: “While wedding services may continue, numbers attending the ceremony in church will need to be strictly curtailed to the legal minimum. Where family relatives or friends are unable to attend given the restrictions on numbering, churches will be happy to explore ways to allow others to join the service, either through platforms such as Skype, or recording the service to send at a later date to anyone unable to attend. We have issued guidance on weddings and baptisms during the current period of restrictions on public gatherings.

“Apart from the bride and groom, the physical distance should be observed as far as possible. The priest does not have to touch the rings to bless them, nor does he or she have to touch the couple’s hands as part of a prayer or blessing, so it is possible for the service to proceed as normal.

“No additional church personnel will attend the service, for example organists, vergers or sound system operator etc. If a couple wishes to cancel their wedding, then any fees or deposit paid to the church will be refunded in full, and if the couple wishes to postpone, the church will work with them to find a suitable future date wherever possible.

The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said: “Couples and parents, friends and families will have been planning for months, even years for their special moment, whether a wedding or a christening. Now it can go ahead – but with only the minimum required in attendance. You may need to cancel or postpone.

“Whatever decision is made, God’s love and blessing will still surround all those who would have been there that day. Prayers will still be offered, and there will be a special day to look forward to in the future. ‘We encourage those who would have been there to hold couples and families in their prayers, and pray that everyone will know God’s love is holding them at this time.”

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